Saturday, June 07, 2014

Spring in Europe

I really shouldn't leave it so long between posts (so this is a long one). We came back from Europe about a month ago now and I seem to be busier than ever. This probably has to do with the fact that I've also returned to work 3 days a week. Returning to work has been hard. Trying to be productive every day I'm there. I'm sure I'll soon get back into the groove of it all.

So, about our trip. It feels so long ago now. We decided to go for 4 weeks this time. So in my last post I said that we were flying into Frankfurt and after booking it, I realised what a bad idea that was. There isn't really all that much to see in Frankfurt. If I was still working in Investment Banking and got sent there for work (highly doubt that would have happened), I may have shown a smidge of excitement. But not great for a holiday destination. Anyway, I decided that rather than stay in boring boring Frankfurt, we'll stay in Wiesbaden. This turned out to be a great idea as it was only a 30 minute train ride from Frankfurt airport and it was such a quaint town right on the Rhine.

We stopped overnight in Dubai as we weren't sure how Mr M would be on the flight. The flight from Sydney to Dubai was a complete nightmare. I booked a late flight (9.45pm) thinking Mr M would sleep. The flight didn't take off till about 10.30pm by which time Mr M was over tired and completely bonkers. He screamed all the way during take-off. When the bassinet was put up, we put him in it and he sat up and smiled at everyone (talk about split personalities). But I think he was really far gone and pretty much slept and screamed till we got to Dubai. 

Luckily in Dubai, we got upgraded to a suite at the hotel and pretty much zonked out after lunch. Dubai to Frankfurt was much more civilised and Mr M was perfect. Completely different to the baby I left Sydney with.

Fountain with geothermal water (it's pretty hot)
We stayed in a lovely old apartment right by Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof (main train station) through Airbnb. Wiesbaden is known for it's geothermal baths and littered throughout the town are these fountains with pretty hot water spouting out from them.

BFG, Mr M and the Russian Church up at Neroberg
I really like going to Germany. I find it quite easy to get around (seriously, it's their super efficient transport system), I love a good bratwurst and wiess bier and there is always something to see.

We did a day trip to Frankfurt and spent a couple of hours in Mainz. 

Wiesbaden New Town Hall
Next stop was Munich. We took the train to Munich (this was our great Europe train adventure). We should have just flown directly into Munich. Again we stayed in an apartment through Airbnb. The lady who we rented the apartment from met us at the train station and took us right to the apartment! She was so lovely and we actually spent an afternoon walking around the Englischer Gardens with her and her little dogs while we were there.

Rathaus Glokenspiel
We did a walking tour of Munich like we normally do when visiting a new city (although I have been to Munich when I did the Contiki thing when I was 21) and Mr M totally lost his cool. He pretty much screamed on and off throughout the tour. One of the tour guides (an Aussie living in Munich) was about to have a baby, looked at Mr M and was probably thinking "shit, what am I getting myself into??"

Responsible parenting - at Hofbrauhaus
My highlight of the whole trip (yes it really was after the nightmare that is taking Mr M on any form of organised tour) was a trip to Pfaffenhofen! Yes, we went to Pfaffenhofen (we couldn't stop saying Pfaffenhofen) just so I could come here:

Wollmeise goodness - walls and walls of it

The BFG indulged me and we took the train out of Munich to go to Pfaffenhofen (see I said we can't stop saying it) just so I can visit the Wollmeise shop. I was like a kid in a candy shop. It was just so so colourful. Let's just say I bought heaps. This was the largest amount I have ever spent on yarn in one go.

It really was an indulgence as going to Pfaffenhofen took all day. Luckily, it was also on the way to the Dachau concentration camp and the BFG wanted to visit. So after all the colourful yarny happiness, we went to Dachau where it was just really grey and sad.

More responsible parenting - enjoying Bavarian food (and beer)

While Pfaffenhofen (again!) and the Wollmeise shop was what I was looking forward to the most, the real highlight of our trip was going to Switzerland. One of the most memorable parts of my Contiki tour (oh my goodness - all those years ago) was the Switzerland leg. I was looking forward to going again but I was also a bit worried about the cost. Because everyone knows that Switzerland is crazy expensive. It really is!

Knitting with Wollmeise on the train to Bern
We departed Munich and took the ICE train to Bern. We didn't actually make it all the way to Bern on the same train as our train was terminated just before we reached Bern due to cows on the the railway tracks.  Yep, this stuff probably only happens in Switzerland. We managed to get another train once they reopened the tracks (probably once they managed to persuade Daisy and her lot to get a move on).

We stayed in Bern for a couple of days, and while we were there, a friend of the BFG who lives in Switzerland met us for dinner. We also managed to pack a bit of sight seeing in as well.

A very "Sound of Music" picturesque photo of Mr M.
We really wanted to stay "among the alps" and so after Bern, caught the train to Thun. A lot of people stay in Interlaken (the stop to go up the Jungfrau) but I thought it would be nice to stay on a different part of the lake and chose the little town of Thun.

On the Ferry to Interlaken
We took a ferry from Thun to Interlaken and spent the day there. It's so different from when I went there 15 years ago. It made me sad because all I saw were the high end watch shops employing Chinese people to sell expensive watches to Chinese tourists. I couldn't wait to leave and go back to the lovely town of Thun.

Mr M among the alps
Switzerland is so achingly beautiful. It makes me want to cry. I could look out at the alps all day long. Amsterdam and Switzerland are the two places that really make me feel melancholy. Don't know why.

Our last stop in Switzerland was a couple of days in Zurich. And when in Switzerland....


I have never eaten so much cheese and potato! I've since recreated the Raclette at home. I found the Raclette cheese at David Jones Foodhall but I won't mention how much it actually cost me. Let's just say, it's on par with eating it in Switzerland - so not cheap!

Our next and main destination was of course Denmark. We flew out of Zurich and then onto Copenhagen. After our obligatory hot dog at the airport, we took the train to where my inlaws live where my Father in Law picked us up at the train station. It was his first time meeting Mr M (in real life - they skype regularly). It was a lovely meeting. My sister in law had also flown in from the UK and we were all staying in a B&B in Svendborg.

We pretty much bummed around Svendborg eating loads of pastries for a couple of days. Then back to Copenhagen for a week. My nephews were really excited as this was their first trip to Copenhagen (they go to Denmark regularly but always seem to skip the city) and were really excited about going to Tivoli gardens.
We missed Eurovision by a week. Yep, I actually contemplated timing our trip to Denmark so we could be in Copenhagen for Eurovision because I doubt we would ever go. But it didn't work out - oh well, I'll just have to hope Denmark wins another round one year.

I'm starting to know my way around Copenhagen. We like staying in Norrebro as it's kind of like Newtown (but less busy) even though it horrifies my mother in law who thinks that area is a bit rough.

The last leg of our trip was a 3 day stay in Dubai on the way home.

Fountains at Dubai Mall
Dubai is like Las Vegas on steroids without the pokies and alcohol. It is big, hot and there is so much stuff. The malls were massive (but lovely and airconditioned). Everyone there loved Mr M. He got so much attention wherever we went. It was quite flattering (even though I think he's super cute, it's nice to hear other people tell you that too - yes, it's all going to my head). The only time it creeped me out was when people actually came up to us and touched him. That was weird.

My own squishy

Fountain show
This trip felt long and I was quite happy to finally come home. Traveling with a baby made things trickier and I think sometimes Mr M got a bit bored with being stuck in the pram all day. Next time we go, we've decided to just fly into Hamburg, hire a car and drive into Denmark. That's the plan anyway.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Some little things for the little one

Wow, time goes by fast when you're having fun. I've been meaning to blog at least monthly so I would have an account of Mr M's first year. Never really got around to it but I have been taking heaps of photos.

Anyway, Mr M is growing up way too fast. I love him to bits. He's actually quite an easy baby. Sleeps through the night most nights, plays quite happily by himself and eats so much. We started him on solids at 5 months and like his Dad, takes to food with great gusto.

Since my sister has two boys, I didn't really need to buy any clothes for Mr M but when I was in Myer recently, they had the jacket below. I had to have it. The sales assistant even took the last size 0 off the mannequin for me. Took it home and it was too small. I was totally devastated. I can't even exchange it for a larger size. I have one chubba bubba.

So what does a loving crafting mother to do?

Make one of course. I couldn't find another similar print in jersey knit so just picked up whatever looked cute and boyish. Don't look too closely as the chevrons don't really match up. It is a reversible jacket and lined with pellon. The pattern is the OwlyBaby Sidewalk Jacket and actually says that it isn't suitable for knit fabrics. But meh, I only read that after I started cutting and it turned out quite well anyway.

Also, in preparation for our upcoming trip to Denmark, I made Mr M a viking hat. Pattern here. In fact, I'm making one for the BFG as well but I ran out of yarn so currently trying to source more of the same to finish it.

I'm not going to waffle on about how being a mother has been life changing yada yada. All I can say is that it's different. Mr M is such an integral part of our lives now and watching him develop into his own little person is pretty cool.

He's also started Day Care (speak to anyone in Sydney and the topics of conversation revolve around property and childcare - it seems). I've had to put him in to secure the spot (well I could just pay for the spot and keep him home but having some time to myself has been wonderful). He doesn't seem too traumatised from being institutionalised with strangers.

As for myself, I've started running and swimming again. I thought I would get right back into all of that after giving birth (ok so not right after - maybe 6 weeks after). Seriously, 7 months later and I'm still not feeling 100% like myself. I guess I underestimated the time it would take to feel normal again.

I also need to really get my ninja research skills on and start working out what we are going to do in Europe. I've now come to the realisation that flying into Frankfurt is a dumb idea. I don't think there is all that much to see and do there and should have chosen to fly into Munich or Paris. Oh well, at least one thing you can probably count on in Germany, is that there will be some well-oiled train that will get us to the next destination.